Diving in With Dr. Giljum

by USA Racquetball

Last month I discussed various ways to safely prepare your body to transition back to racquetball. This month I want to take it a step further and break down the necessary steps to begin this journey and go from couch to court. This will help you get ready for a major event, such as the 2021 USA Racquetball National Championships Festival Presented by Penn so you can “meet me in St. Louie!”

The obvious first step is to plan your attack. Recognizing that if you are not in the same physical condition you were in March 2020, it is not smart (at first) to train like you are. I like to practice goal setting using the S.M.A.R.T. method for my business, personal, and health-related goals. This means you are setting goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time sensitive. For a racquetball player, this could be that you want to get back to playing three times a week after a month. Now that you are beginning with the end in mind, you can plan the steps that it will take to get you there.

A great place to begin is setting up some form of accountability. This could be a checklist where you mark off when you have completed your exercise for the day, or it could be finding a workout partner whose schedule aligns with yours to go and play racquetball/exercise together. Accountability is extremely helpful for reaching your goals. Even the best players have coaches for this very reason. It is also important to remember how great you felt previously, post-workout. People never regret a workout or playing racquetball, outside of sore muscles, but they do regret getting out of shape!

The next step is to schedule your exercise. You do not have to start off by going to the club six days a week, and in fact this is likely not advisable initially. Start with a number that you can commit to. If that is 2-3 times a week at first, then that is 2-3 times better than nothing! Also, pick a time of day that works best for you. If you find that early morning is when you have time, then be proactive and make it happen. If you can only play after work, then make that work in your schedule. When you schedule time, you make a commitment.

Overuse injuries tend to be the downfall of the weekend warrior athlete. Rest days help combat these types of issues and are especially important at the beginning of an exercise routine. Active rest is a great way to recover and rest on these off days. Active rest includes activities like light walking and stretching that increase blood flow and can help repair damaged muscles from previous workouts. It is important to keep active rest activities to low/medium intensity.

As mentioned in last month’s article, proper warmup and cool down are vital, especially when coming off a long time of inactivity. People can get eager to return to form early on and overdo their exercise. Once properly warmed up, start with lower intensity exercises or fewer overall games played and gradually work your way up, then perform a cooldown routine.

The last topic I want to address is one that may be the most important in the longevity of your racquetball career: healthy habits. There is a reason Tom Brady is still winning Super Bowls at age 43!

Here are some things that often get overlooked that I cannot stress enough:

  1. Nutrition – Think of your body as a high-powered sports car. You would not fuel your car with dirt, and yet we eat fried, processed, unhealthy foods all the time. Every cell in your body is a byproduct of the food you eat. Choose wisely.
  2. Sleep – Everyone loves to sleep, but we tend to neglect it far too often. Every aspect of the body, from the brain to muscles, recovers and “takes out the trash” during slumber. Set yourself up for success -- get at least 7 hours of sleep a night.
  3. Stress Reduction – This will look different for everyone. It often begins with removing or altering the parts of your life that cause the most mental distress. Control what you can control. Mindset matters!

In summary, resuming racquetball or exercise again after a few months or a year off, it is important to start slow. Many muscle strains or joint and ligament sprains as well as more serious injuries occur when returning after significant time off.

I hope you found this information helpful! For more information on how to take control of your health, follow me on all social media: @giljumchiro.

This article is for informational purposes only. This information does not replace professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have questions regarding your condition or are experiencing pain, always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health professional. Developments in medical research may impact this information. If you think you have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately.

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